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The relation between social engagement and pretend play in autism

The focus of this study is the nature and concomitants of pretend play among young children with autism. Age- and language-matched children with autism (n= 27), autism spectrum disorder (n= 14), and developmental disorders without autism (n= 16) were administered the Test of Pretend Play (ToPP; Lewis & Boucher, 1997), with an additional rating of ‘playful pretence’. As predicted, children with autism showed less playful pretend than participants with developmental disorders who did not have autism. Across the groups, playful pretence was correlated with individual differences in communication and social interaction, even when scores on the ToPP were taken into account. Limitations in creative, playful pretend among children with autism relate to their restricted interpersonal communication and engagement.